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October 21, 2016 << back >>

“Digital Solutions Assist Farmers in their Decisions”

Improving crop yields, reducing the environmental impact of agriculture, and enhancing the user experience of Bayer products – The goals of Bayer’s Digital Farming initiative are ambitious. To give farmers only the best possible, smoothly running solutions, Digital Farming tools are being tested extensively in markets such as Germany, France, Brazil and Canada right now. Chris Paterson, Digital Farming Lead Canada at Bayer, explains the program and its benefits for farmers in his country.

What kind of Digital Farming solutions does Bayer offer in Canada?

Chris Paterson: We are developing a whole range of tools. Mostly, they are designed to assist farmers in their decisions. In effect, they can optimize a farmer’s logistics, the performance of the products he uses, and his overall crop yield. Right now, we are in the piloting phase to test these tools and are seeing exciting results. So we are working with farmers as well as with our Excellence Group and the Market Development Group to make sure that the technology works smoothly before we introduce it to the market.

Could you please give an example of a Digital Farming tool of this kind?

Chris Paterson: Sure! We are developing a digital zone spray solution for a fungicide on canola. Using a network of weather stations, weather modeling technologies and satellite imagery of the area, it determines which parts of the field have a high or low risk for a fungal disease and in conclusion where and when the fungicide should be applied. With that information, we can program the sprayer wirelessly to spray only certain areas of the field. The benefits are quite obvious. The farmer uses less product, so his investment for each field is reduced. At the same time he wastes less fungicide because it is only applied where it is needed and by exactly predicting the required amount there are no leftovers in the spray tank. He also saves time because the decision to spray or not to spray is made much easier.

Another example would be RFID technology that we are implanting into the labels on product packaging. Sensors placed in warehouses, farm equipment, or even phones are able to track the movement of these products. The advantage of this is a lot of automated data entry that makes manual input by typing superfluous. So inventory management for farmers and retailers is much faster and more accurate. And there is lots of timely information delivery that can be triggered to optimize product applications and prevent mistakes.

Can you already estimate when these solutions will hit the market?

Chris Paterson: As I said, we are in the piloting phase right now. Depending on how smoothly these tests run, we hope to be ready soon. But the products have to be a really good experience for the farmers so we need to make sure that all bugs are worked out before delivery. We have a small community of beta test farmers here in Canada that do the testing and we are learning a lot by doing this. That’s where we are right now and we are really excited about it.